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Architect issues challenge to reduce dependence on coal

This is a story of buried treasure, of excitement and adventure on a grand scale never before imagined. It is a tale of vision, courage and commitment that propels the heroine, or hero as the case may be, to new heights of accomplishment and glory. Don’t you wish that just once in your life you could be in a position like that? Imagine the satisfaction of a task so well done that millions of others’ lives were transformed for the better!

The story starts off as people around the world realized they had made a huge mistake. The carbon emissions from their rapidly expanding industrial societies were affecting the very climate that nurtured and protected them. By enjoying the nearly free, concentrated ancient sunlight of fossil fuels, they released huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere that had previously been safely stored in the ground. This was a dilemma of unprecedented proportions.

Many people, including some of their leaders, were overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the issue. Others took a very long time to finally understand what scientists had been warning about. More than a few leaders were immobilized by their obligations to the source of the problem: big industry, big money and big coal. The special interests had them in their pockets. They were leaders in name only. There seemed to be no easy solution.

Although there were many people working on finding a solution, it was a bit like searching for buried treasure; they knew it was out there, but no one was really sure exactly where it would be found. As people learned more about the looming crisis, their sense of urgency grew.

Then one day, a man had an idea. He knew that creating energy with coal was causing much of the problem and that the only real solution was to leave it in the ground forever. He also knew how to make buildings that needed much less energy and how to get free, clean energy from the sun. He was not the only person who knew this, but he was able to put it all together in a way that people could easily relate to. He did his homework, got the facts, created a plan and offered it to everyone. The plan was good, but one thing was crucial. It required the help of many, many citizens in order to succeed.

This is where you, dear reader, come into the picture. You are a vital part of this story. This is your time, your adventure, your opportunity to do something that will benefit everyone and everything on the Earth.

This little tale is not a fantasy. Architect Edward Mazria, executive director of Architecture 2030, is the man with the idea. His vision is called the 2030 Challenge and he has created a simple but effective plan that is clearly a significant part of the solution to climate change. It is our buried treasure, a metaphor representing quality of life and long-term survival. Mazria has created the map. It’s up to all of us to create the results that will allow us to reap the bounty.

The latest aspect of Mazria’s work is the “Face It” webcast that was part of the Focus the Nation program that took place nationwide a few weeks ago. This excellent 38-minute presentation is available online at www.architecture2030.org/faceit/. You can even download the entire video to your computer.

The webcast starts with an entertaining musical from the Blue Man Group to warm things up. After a brief introduction, Mazria makes a thorough yet very straightforward presentation of the issues and the 2030 Challenge solutions. His use of stories, images and scientific fact is masterful. This is perhaps the best presentation on the complex topic of climate change that I’ve seen to date.

So the bottom line is this: We have the solution to climate change. What we don’t have is time. That’s why I write often about this topic. The “Face It” webcast is a valuable resource that everyone, not just those in the building industry, should be familiar with. Watch and absorb the information, then share it with others. Tell your co-workers, your friends at school, the chief executive officer of your company. Write to every elected official you can. Tell everyone you know and suggest that they watch the “Face It” presentation.

In doing so, you step into our story of excitement and adventure, the story of the green building solution. We have a very real challenge before us. By sharing your knowledge, enthusiasm, excitement and vision, you can create a ripple effect that will benefit others for thousands of years. Your part is so crucial that without you, we may not find that treasure. You make a difference.

Green is just a color and there are many ways to live, but they come together as a powerful force: green living. It is in the living, the doing, that we realize the benefits. Please watch the “Face It” webcast and then live your part of the green building solution. Somewhere, someday, someone may just look back and thank you for being a hero.

Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, specializing in renewable energy, green building, alternative transportation and lifestyle choices for both residential and commercial clients. The company is committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. Rypka can be reached via e-mail at steve@greendream.biz. More information relating to this column is posted at www.greendream.biz.

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